On Memorial Day Weekend, we take time to reflect on the sacrifices that men and women in uniform have made to protect our freedom. The military community has given so much to us and deserves our respect and support. Unfortunately, scammers often try to target and profit from our veterans and active duty military personnel.
To honor the fallen this Memorial Day, Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific is doing its part to protect their families and the service members and veterans still with us.
Active military members, veterans and spouses in the Northwest have reported more than 500 scams with an estimated $94,000 lost in the past year, according to BBB Scam Tracker. Among those BBB Scam Tracker reports, phishing scams were the number one reported by military consumers in Washington, followed by tech support scams.
Other common tricks that target the military and their families include:
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- Romance scams: Scammers pose as real soldiers on social media and pull on your heartstrings to gain your trust and your hard-earned cash. Remember to never send money or personal information that can be used for identity theft to someone you’ve never met in person.
Charity schemes: There are fake charities that use similar names of well-known veterans’ charities to try and fool people into donating. Remember, scammers can easily create websites and accounts similar to credible charities. To combat this scam, research the organization at give.org where there are more than 11,000 charity reports from the U.S. and Canada.
Military loan scams: Watch out for too-good-to-be-true loans offered to members of the military or veterans, such as "no credit checks" or "all ranks approved" with an upfront fee. Advertisements for loans that promise a guarantee, instant approval or no credit check will often come with hidden fees and extremely high interest rates. Remember that legitimate lenders will never guarantee a loan before you apply and loans that require an upfront fee are likely a scam.
The BBB recommends service members, veterans, their families, and military supporters never give personal information to someone they do not know. Also, military who are deployed should put an active duty alert on their credit reports to minimize the risk of identity theft.
For more resources, visit the BBB Military Line at bbb.org. This outreach program focuses on educating service members about financial literacy and consumer protection tips for military communities.